In a surprising move, Poland has chosen the animated movie The Peasants, directed by DK and Hugh Welchman, to represent the country in the Best International Feature Movie category at the 2024 Academy Awards. This selection has generated substantial discussion, especially considering the recent backlash against acclaimed director Agnieszka Holland’s movie The Green Border from the Polish government.
The Peasants, which premiered at the Toronto International Movie Festival, offers a visually arresting interpretation of Wladyslaw Reymont’s Nobel Prize-winning novel about life in a 19th-century Polish village. Using a painted animation style similar to Loving Vincent, the movie has earned acclaim for its aesthetic beauty.
Ewa Puszczyńska, the head of Poland’s Oscar selection committee, stressed the contemporary relevance of The Peasants, pointing to its exploration of themes like the oppression of women, sexual violence, and workplace harassment. She contends the Movies address universal issues that cross political lines.
In contrast, Holland’s The Green Border, which depicts the dire conditions faced by refugees at the Polish-Belarusian border, has faced backlash from Poland’s government even before its release. The Justice Minister denounced it as akin to Nazi propaganda, and President Andrzej Duda called for a boycott. The administration even produced a video challenging the movie’s perspective.
Though The Green Border found an audience in Poland, Holland worries the government’s antagonism created an environment of fear that swayed the Oscar committee. She acknowledges the merits of “The Peasants” but argues the attacks on her Movie reflect a broader crackdown on dissent by Poland’s leaders. Unsure of her Oscar prospects, especially in English-language markets, she remains concerned about the Movie awards chances absent an independent campaign.
Poland’s Oscar selection has sparked heated debate within its Community about artistic freedom and government interference. The controversial decision raises questions about censorship and the suppression of dissent under the current administration. Source